Today’s journal entry by Bert Johnson, Con-way Truckload’s vice president of human resources, is from Day One of his weeklong journey with Truckload driver Frank Merrill. In this entry, Bert puts in some miles and gets a taste of what life on the on the road is like for a professional truck driver.
June 9, 2013
Met Frank at 10:45 a.m. at the Joplin, Mo. local. Off loaded my personal gear. Did a pre-trip ... saw previous trailer damage and some tire issues, but not enough to warrant taking it to the shop. We then went to local to get our trip assignment. Got off the yard about 11:55 a.m. We took off on Interstate 44 going east. Stopped at Dottie's in Cuba, Mo. ... great buffet ... had an awesome coconut cream pie and coffee compliments of the chef. Ate too much (now I see why it is hard to eat properly on the road — especially this being my first day).
Back in the truck after our break and on the road again. Had to take student pre-test ... managed to get 100 percent after some help from Frank. Not much happening on the road until before St. Louis with a traffic back-up ... car accident in right hand lane ... lots of funny chatter on the CB ... back to full speed again ... and here we go again with another traffic delay ... another accident in the two right hand lanes ... almost cleaned up. Went through downtown St. Louis to cut time off our trip. We were hoping to get to the consignee by end of available hours.
Smooth sailing ... storm clouds up ahead ... hopefully will not hit. Unfortunately, 30 miles west of Terre Haute, Ind., we started to hit rain. Rain started to get heavier. We slowed down, but several trucks came flying by. Now rain so heavy that we can't see ... hazard flashers on. Frank decided that it was not safe to continue to drive through the storm, and we had to shut down for the night at Exit 41 in Cloverdale, Ind. We had hoped to make it to consignee by the end of our hours. We still could have driven another two hours plus, but couldn’t safely. We arrived at Cloverdale ... Frank pulled between two other units ... tight squeeze ... he is good. Shut the truck off ... did our end of day stuff and sent messages.
Frank called ops and made them aware that we would be late to the customer. Spoke to Tammy, didn't wait long, about eight minutes on hold before speaking with her. Truck next to us idling. Went into the truck stop to use the restroom. It continued to rain hard ... got back to the truck ... climbed into the bunk, changed, got my earplugs out ... good thing. The idling truck next to us idled all night ... very loud. It was my first night sleeping in a truck. It is warm in the truck, but cooled off sometime during the night. It is now almost 11 p.m. Long day. Needless to say, I couldn’t exercise today. We ran 483 miles and didn't see any customers. We drove eight hours and 11 minutes.